Charging gadgets while on the move may soon be possible, as scientists have developed a flexible solar cell that can be built into clothing.
Harry Atwater and his team at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena have made the bendy cell from an array of microwires encased in a clear flexible polymer.
AdvertisementIt uses just 1 per cent of the expensive silicon needed by a regular solar cell with the same output, and is just 5 per cent of the size.
To begin their invention, the researchers grew a forest of micrometre-wide silicon wires on a silicon base.
As the wires grow, the silicon is exposed to different chemicals to produce a set of concentric junctions between different types of semiconductor, making each wire act as a device that converts light into electricity.
The forest of wires is then covered in the clear silicone polymer polydimethylsiloxane, reports the New Scientist.
Next, the wires are cut away from the silicon base, leaving a flexible solar cell. Atwater briefed the base can be reused to make up to 30 more cells.
As light gets trapped and channelled down in between the wires, the cell only reflects half the light of a regular cell.
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